Here is video of Syrian Dictator Bashir al-Assad delivering a speech in public in Damascus today. Assad was defiant, saying he is fighting terrorists and foreigners trying to take over the country. Assad also thanked Russia, China, and Iran for their support:
UK GUARDIAN: Bashar al-Assad has pledged to continue fighting “terrorist” violence and urged foreign countries to end support for his enemies while also offering a national dialogue and a constitutional referendum to end Syria’s bloody crisis.
The Syrian president used an hour-long speech in Damascus on Sunday to propose what he called a comprehensive plan that included an “expanded government”. But there was no sign he was prepared to step down as the first stage of a political transition – a demand of all opposition groups. “I will go one day, but the country remains,” he said.
The Syrian leader referred repeatedly to plots against his country and the role of al-Qaida, long portrayed as the leading element in what began as a popular uprising in March 2011. Syria was not facing a revolution but a “gang of criminals”, he said.
“We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word,” the president told supporters. “This war targets Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war to defend the nation.”
It was hard to see how his latest speech offered even a glimmer of hope for a way out of the bloody impasse between the regime and rebels in a conflict which the UN said last week had claimed 60,000 lives over 21 months. . . Assad also thanked Russia, China and Iran for supporting Syria in the face of hostility from the US, Britain and France. . . .Read More
At around the 2:30 mark of this video from Fox News’ “Special Report” on Friday, Charles Krauthammer gives his view that within three months, Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad will be “dead.” Krauthammer responded to a question as to whether Assad would be in exile, still President, or dead within three months. He believes Assad’s own military people will turn on him and kill him in the near future.
Terrorists with Weapons of Mass Destruction appears to be a likely outcome of what is going on in Syria right now:
DANGER ROOM: The Bashir Assad regime in Syria is loading of some of its weapons with deadly nerve agents, and mixing together the chemical precursors needed to carry out a sarin-laced attack. But that may not be the biggest chemical threat Syria faces. There’s also an increasing chance that a terror group might get its hands on some of the planet’s most gruesome chemical arms.
Assad’s chemical corps have spent years buying up and experimenting with the chemicals needed to make the nerve agent sarin; not even an increasingly bloody civil war has kept the labs from running. Today, Syria-watchers in the U.S. government believe, these chemical engineers may be skilled enough in handling sarin that the nerve agent might remain deadly for up to a year. (“This is not a ‘move it or lose it’ situation,” one American official tells Danger Room.) And during that time, the sarin could be acquired by one of the Islamic extremists working in the loosely led rebel movement to topple the Assad regime. In other words: There’s the prospect of chemically armed terrorists emerging from the Syrian civil war.
“Uncertainties regarding this crisis are pervasive, yet at least one outcome is highly probable: terrorist acquisition of chemical weapons if the regime falls,” writes Federation of American Scientists analyst Charles Blair. . . . Read More
With the specter of a possible chemical Weapons attack by Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad on the horizon, it makes you think of the Chemical Weapons attack launched by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in Iraq back in 1988. Here is a video report from the BBC just days after that horrific attack that killed thousands of people. The attack came during the closing days of the long Iran-Iraq War. Saddam reportedly used Cyanide, Mustard, and Nerve Gas chemicals in the attack that decimated the Iraqi city of Halabja.
Reports last night and today indicate Syria has now loaded the precursor chemicals for Sarin Gas into aerial bombs that could be dropped from fighter-jets onto the Syria people. So far, the bombs do not appear to have been loaded into the fighter-jets, and Dictator Bashar al-Assad has not yet given the final order to use the weapons against rebels trying to drive him from power:
NBC NEWS: The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said.
As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the “precursor” chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs.
Sarin is an extraordinarily lethal agent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin attack on Halabja in 1988. . . . Read More
The Obama Administration has warned Syria that any use of Chemical Weapons against the Syrian people will bring about a response from the United States. “This is a red line for the United States,” warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There are reports that Syria is moving chemical weapons into place for possible use against Syrian Rebels threatening the regime of Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Here is raw video of Israeli tanks firing at targets in Syria in response to mortar attacks from there that landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
NBC NEWS: Israel’s army fired tank shells into Syria on Monday and scored “direct hits” on “Syrian mobile artillery” in response to a Syrian mortar shell that struck the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, the Israeli military said in a statement.
It was the second time in two days that Israel has responded to what it said was errant Syrian fire. On Sunday the military said it had a fired a “warning shot” across the disengagement line, while on Monday it said it had fired back at “the source”. The Syrian shell landed on Monday in an open area of the Golan Heights without causing any damage or injuries. It was not immediately clear if anyone was hit by the Israeli response.
The strikes on Sunday and Monday were the first direct shots Israel has taken at Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It comes amid increased rocket fire from Gaza over the past few days. . . . Read More
CORRECTION 10/12/12, 7:20 PM ET: I got this one wrong. As I listened to the debate last night I thought, as did others, Newt Gingrich (below) included, that I heard Joe Biden say Syria was 5x larger geographically than Libya. The moderator had ended her question by mentioning “Syria,” and Biden immediately said, “Different country,” and then made his comment about the size. When I went looking for video of that this morning, i found the above clip that seemed to confirm what I thought I heard. But as several commenters have so kindly noted, if you listen further, Biden actually does clarify he was referring to Libya and not Syria as being 5x larger. Biden says, “that is Libya,” to clarify what he must have thought was not clear the way he began his remarks. I’ve posted the complete video of that segment below, and you will hear Biden clarify that he meant “Libya” and not Syria. So, there is no Biden gaffe here. Just my own. I apologize for getting this wrong.
Where to even begin with Joe Biden!
In the Vice-Presidential Debate last night, what stood out was Joe Biden’s totally disrespectful behavior. The man was rude, condescending and at times seem almost unhinged with the laughter, sneers and smirks.
Almost lost in that morass of indefensible behavior was his gaffe in saying that Syria is “5 times larger, geographically, than Libya.” As with so much Joe Biden said and did, he could not be more wrong. Libya is actually nearly 10X larger than Syria.
Biden absurdly wrong “syria five times bigger than libya” FACTS libya 679,362 square miles- syria 71, 500 biden totally wrong— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) October 12, 2012
Here is a CBS News report on fierce fighting taking place in Syria’s two main cities between government forces of Dictator Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces trying to overthrow his brutal regime. Reporter Elizabeth Palmer says more than 1,200 people have been killed in fighting just in the past week.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Rebels say battle has begun to ‘liberate’ Aleppo. In Damascus, the opposition reports new government attacks featuring artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships.
New clashes and military shelling were reported Sunday in Syria’s two major cities, as the warring sides in the country’s escalating conflict intensified their information battle on the airwaves, the Internet and social media.
A rebel commander, identified as Col. Abduljabbar Aqidi, declared in an opposition video released on YouTube that the battle had begun to “liberate” the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s commercial and business hub. Reached by Skype, Aqidi said rebels controlled the Salahudeen, Sakhoor and Tareeq al Bab neighborhoods, and had repulsed a counterattack by government forces, killing 20 soldiers. Clashes continued into the night, he said.
Rebel officials called the assault on Aleppo a planned offensive and publicly warned people to stay in their homes. Many residents were reported to be fleeing the city.
The official state media, on the other hand, reported that authorities in Aleppo had inflicted “heavy losses” on “terrorists,” the government’s term for the armed rebels.
In a conflict that many now view as sectarian in nature, the rebel colonel publicly vowed to protect the rights of minority Christians and Alawites, members of a Shiite Islam offshoot whose ranks include President Bashar Assad. The rebellion stems from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority. Aleppo has a substantial population of Christians, and many are worried about a potential Islamist takeover of Syria if Assad’s secular government is overthrown.
In Damascus, the Syrian capital, opposition activists reported a determined military assault on the Mezzeh district, home to many embassies and offices. One activist in the city reported at least eight killed and 60 wounded.
Until a week ago, Damascus and Aleppo had been largely insulated from the violence roiling Syria’s provinces. . . . Read More
The Jerusalem-based DEBKAfile that closely monitors intelligence and security matters – particularly in the Middle East – has posted some ominous things today about the deteriorating situation with the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. As the rebels gain ground there, and as Assad is increasingly on the defensive, many worry he could actually decide to use Chemical or Biological Weapons. Here are three postings from today:
DEBKAfile: Turkish sources say two generals were among the refugees in flight from Syria Saturday. One, Gen. Mustafa Sheikh said Assad’s forces were moving chemical weapons across the country for possible use in a military retaliation for the killing of four top security officials. “They want to burn the country. The regime cannot fall without perpetrating a sea of blood,” he said. . . . (Reuters is also reporting this).
Security sources in Washington criticize the Obama administration for not treating seriously enough Bashar Assad’s threats to start using chemical and biological weapons against Syrian rebels and other Middle East targets if the revolt continues. “Assad has shown he means what he says,” those sources said. . . .
The US government is closely monitoring Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and actively consulting with Syria’s neighbors to stress concern on the security of those weapons, said the White House Saturday night. Iraqi government said that Syrian rebels have seized a second border crossing between the two countries. . . .
At The Daily Beast, they cite something very interesting – that it is “unclear” whether there could be Weapons of Mass Destruction in Syria moved there from — Iraq:
. . . . Also unclear is what, if anything, Iraq transferred to Syria before the 2003 U.S. invasion. “That is the wild card,” said DeSutter.
Whether or not sensitive weapons technology was moved to Syria is a hotly disputed question in the intelligence community. James Clapper, now the Director of National Intelligence and formerly the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, said in 2003 that he believed materials had been moved out of Iraq in the months before the war and cited satellite imagery. . . .
According to Barack Obama and many Democrats, Iraq never had “WMD” – at least once things got difficult in Iraq, that’s what they said repeatedly in attacking President George W. Bush. But before it was politically expedient to say there were no WMD, many leading Democrats were saying otherwise:
Twin blasts have rocked the Syrian Capital of Damascus, reportedly killing at least 27 people. The Syrian media have called the blasts, “terrorist attacks.” No one has claimed responsibility, and it is unknown who is behind the attacks:
NEW YORK TIMES: The back-to-back bombings in President Bashar al-Assad’s seat of power — one exploding in the same area where a state security headquarters was bombed in December — shocked residents who have enjoyed relative calm during the yearlong uprising against the government and a fierce and crackdown. And the blasts stood as a direct challenge to the government’s recent claims that it was close to restoring order.
Syrian media reports, quoting the health minister, Wael al-Halki, said at least 27 people had been killed and 97 wounded in the explosions. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
It was the fourth time in three months that mysterious bombings have hit security compounds in Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub and largest city. They stoked fears that, as an uprising that began peacefully transforms into a grinding, asymmetrical war, Syria could become an arena for forces that neither the government nor the opposition fully controls.
The government first blamed t Al Qaeda and later, more vaguely, “terrorists” — a term it often uses for the people behind an uprising it portrays as a foreign-inspired conspiracy — for the bombings. Syrian rebels have denied involvement, though no one knows with certainty the activities of all the loose-knit groups fighting the government. Some anti-government activists have even suggested that the government staged the bombings to demonize the opposition. . . . Read More
Here is a video report on news that New York Times Reporter Anthony Shadid has died in Syria at the age of 43. He reportedly sneaked into Syria with a photographer on horseback and died as the result of an asthma attack as they prepared to leave the same way apparently triggered by being around the horses. Shadid won the Pulitzer-Prize for his coverage of the Iraq War.
There is outrage in Syria in the wake of the reported torture and killing of a 13-year-old Syrian boy by the Syrian Police. Protesters poured into the streets for mass demonstrations against the regime of Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad. Assad has put down protests against his regime with brute force and intimidation for weeks.
This link goes to a YouTube video that shows the unspeakable torture aftermath of the 13-year-old boy (Hamza Al-Khateeb), who is now the face of the Syrian Protest Movement. How anyone could do this to another human being is hard to grasp. BE ADVISED that it is extremely graphic and disturbing.
Here is video of a Syrian Protester talking with Anderson Cooper about the bloody crackdown that took place there yesterday in which Syrian Government thugs shot a killed scores of protesters. This man says they were aiming for “the chest and the head,” rather than just to wound or scare off the protesters. The man shot some cell phone video that is included in this report. Most of it is very shaky and hard to see, but you do see some of those mortally wounded in the crackdown.
Toward the end, the man tells Cooper he is speaking out because, “It is better to die than to live without freedom.”
I don’t know how committed these people are to true freedom, but what he said is profoundly true.
Here is video of Sen. Joe Lieberman saying today that he would favor the United States and an International Coalition attacking the Assad regime in Syria if he threatens a brutal crackdown against his people the way Gadhafi did.
Lieberman pointed out that “the precedent has been set” for the “World Community” to act against brutal regimes as is being done in Libya. So why not do the same in Syria?